Since the 1980s, the physical and mental health of Swedish children and young people has been measured by surveys. One of them is the International School Behavior Survey (HBSC), which is taken by 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds every fourth year during school hours.
Researchers Annette Wickstrom and Christine Zeiler of Linkпиping University wanted to study the research to see what norms could be applied to health research, something that was rarely studied. The results are published in the journal Children and society.
“The study shows that the questions from the survey about the occupation and the financial condition of the parents create norms for how you should be and what you should have. “Our interviews also show that some teens are wondering if they should respond to reality or in a way that protects the people they care about,” said Annette Wickstrom, an associate professor in the Department of Thematic Studies at Linkнгping University. studied norms and ideals related to health.
The poll raised thoughts they had not previously had
These studies can be seen as a tool for discovering the well-being of young people. But they can also be given a broader meaning, as bearers of meaning and norms. This theoretical approach, from scientific and technological studies, is the one taken by the researchers.
Through 51 interviews with 15-year-olds in three school classes, an understanding emerged of how teens view polls.
According to the results of the study, some of them believe that the research conveys a message about how people should live. The very existence of questions about their own room and the number of computers and bathrooms in the home, some perceived as a message that they should have these things. Similarly, they noted that weight and body research questions can lead to negative thoughts that they did not have before.
The survey also made them aware of the differences, especially in terms of their families’ financial situation. While some said the survey made them realize how happy they were, others said they were afraid of appearing poor.
The growing field of research shows that a person’s subjective idea of their socioeconomic status may affect their health more than their objective status. In other words, how you perceive your income and your status in society is more important to your health than how much you are actually paid.
Young people say the survey raises questions about status. If we know that a subjective understanding of your social status can mean more to your health than the real situation, we can ask how this kind of question affects teens“
Annette Wickstrom, Associate Professor, Department of Thematic Studies, Linkoping University
Questions that motivate or cause guilt
The experience of young people to complete the research varied. Some found the research to be fun and informative, a “guide” to how you should live, which motivated them to set new goals.
Others say the research is difficult to complete because it evokes feelings of guilt, responsibility and inferiority. Some of them wondered who was responsible for making them feel good. They felt that research assumed that they themselves were ultimately responsible for – and could influence – their health. However, their view was that to a large extent, their health depended on external factors, things beyond their control, such as death, abuse and family conflict.
Providing sensitive details in the classroom
The interviews also showed that teens found it difficult to complete their privacy research. Some reported that they tried to hide their questionnaire for fear of being seen by their classmates, while others said that the questions and answers were openly discussed in the classroom.
Other respondents talked about the risk of recalling memories they did not want to recall while sitting among their classmates. Asked how old they were when they had sex, one girl commented: “If you were abused and never had voluntary intercourse, how should you respond? Annette Wickstrom explains that the results of the study remind us that surveys and questionnaires require constant reflection.
“Instead of thinking that some research should be stopped, we feel that we should apply our newly discovered knowledge in creating new research. You need to think about how they are designed, distributed, how questions are formulated and predefined answers, and whether schools can offer psychological support after research. “And, of course, you have to think about whether questions should be included on such sensitive topics.”
Wickström, A & Zeiler, K., (2021) Survey Performance: Teenagers mean doing “Health Survey Behavior for School-age Children” in Sweden. Children and society. doi.org/10.1111/chso.12425.